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    The Islamic State in South Africa: A 6-Month Outlook

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    Since the Islamic State (IS) lost territory in Iraq and Syria, the group has attempted to develop networks in Africa. This is happening primarily in the Horn of Africa, West Africa, the Sahel, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Comparatively, the operations of IS cells in South Africa (IS-SA) are miniscule. However, IS-SA plays a unique role in the funding of IS-linked terror groups across the continent.

    In the last year, the US sanctioned seven individuals and eight companies in SA thought to help fund these networks. Several sanctioned individuals have planned and attempted attacks within SA. Corruption and a lack of financial oversight have made SA an ideal midpoint for terrorist fund transfers. Furthermore, it has made it difficult for the government to identify and prosecute involved individuals.

    KJ-1: It is likely that IS will maintain their presence in South Africa and will continue financing IS-linked cells across Africa over the next 6 months.

    • A July UN report exposed the role of IS-SA cells in transferring funds from IS leadership to affiliate groups in Africa. The report calls IS’s ability to maintain the transfer of funds ‘resilient’ and tracked payments, adding up to over $1 Million. (source)
    • On the 1st of March, the US sanctioned Farhad Hoomer, Siraaj Miller (Cape Town cell leader), Abdella Abadigga, and Peter Mbaga. The sanctions were driven by their training, leading, and recruiting of IS cells, as well as for criminally gaining funds sent on to networks across Africa. (source)
    • On the 7th of November the US sanctioned 4 individuals (Nufael Akbar, Yunus Akbar, Mohamed Akbar, and Umar Akbar) and 8 companies, 4 of which are controlled by those newly sanctioned, for providing support to IS. Farhad Hoomer is the leader of these individuals’ Durban based cell and controls the other 4 sanctioned enterprises. (source)
    • Hoomer sent $69,000 acquired via extortion and kidnapping to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an IS-linked terror group in the DRC and Uganda. (source)
    • Abdella Abdigga extorted money from 2 mosques in SA that he sent on to IS-linked groups in Africa. (source)
    • Jihadists from the Sahel, Somalia, and the ADF are in SA. (source)
    • Corruption and state capture have precipitated a massive uptick in organized crime. IS-SA cells use organized criminal activity to fund affiliates. (source)(source)

    KJ-2: it is unlikely that the South African government will effectively curb IS presence or financing within the next 6 months.

    • SA is facing the prospect of being greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in February 2023 due to its failure to curb terrorist financing. (source)
    • FATF’s 2021 evaluation found SA to have a sound legal framework but poor enforcement. SA has not effectively implemented any of FAFT’s 20 recommendations and has “failed to demonstrate that it is effectively identifying, investigating, or prosecuting terrorist financiers.” (source)(source)
    • South Africans concerned about the implications of vague wording in new legislation are pushing back against two amendments the government is attempting to pass to avoid greylisting. (source)
    • Corruption within the government, police, and judiciary will continue to hinder the state’s ability to address terrorism. (source)
    • In 2018, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) dropped a case against Hoomer and 10 others for a mosque attack because of “prosecution deficiencies.” They dropped a 2021 case against Hoomer and 5 others for unlawful firearm possession due to “incompetence” in securing warrants. All belligerents remain at large.(source)(source)(source)

    KJ-3: There is a realistic probability that IS will attempt an attack in South Africa within the next 6 months.

    • The 4 individuals sanctioned on the 1st of March were involved in attack planning. (source)
    • According to American intelligence, Hoomer maintains the “will and intent” to commit an attack. (source)
    • In 2018, Hoomer and 10 members of his Durban cell attacked a mosque in Verulam; they killed one, injured others, and planted explosive devices around Durban. (source)(source)
    • The Mozambique-based, IS-linked terror group ASWJ threatened an attack on SA if SA sent troops to Mozambique to combat their insurgency. SA later sent troops to take on ASWJ. Peter Mbaga is in contact with ASWJ. (source)
    • American intelligence warned of a possible 29th of October IS attack on Sandton, Johannesburg’s financial district. (source)
    • Local news sources quote Hoomer saying there will be “a reaction that is not too good” to new sanctions. (source)

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 28th of November 2022

    Ethan Sanderson
    Ethan Sanderson
    Ethan is a recent MA graduate of Conflict, Security, and Development from King's College London that specialises in armed groups, terrorism, and the security/development nexus. He also holds a degree in International Affairs and Doing Business in Emerging Markets from Northeastern University, and has lived and worked in the USA, United Kingdom, and Chile.

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